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Just over half the US population and much of the rest of the world is puzzling over one question: why would anyone (much less 70 million people) continue to support Trump, given everything he and those associated with him have said and done? In fact, a growing number of countries have their own local version of this dynamic, complete with the dumbfounded disbelief of some part of the population.

There are many answers to the question. But here’s what my research suggests: Trumpism and its global equivalents stem from the simplistic worldview of reductionism and dominance that has shaped Western society since the dawn of the Modern Era. That worldview is steadily losing ground to a wiser, more complex, more life-aligned take on things. But it’s not going out without a fight. Under threat of irrelevance and replacement, it is digging in its heels and doubling down on the worst and most extreme expressions of its underlying principles. And that’s all it knows how to do. This is not a question of education or intelligence — those held in its sway are as smart and savvy as any of us. …


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Last week, I facilitated a virtual summit on the need and opportunity for profound change in how our society cares for its elderly. And as so often happens in my work, there were lessons for all of us, as we look for wiser, more compassionate ways to care for each other and the Earth.

At times, preparing for the summit felt like sacred work to honor the elderly and those who offer them care, particularly after so much tragedy in long-term care facilities during the pandemic. At other times, I confess that I wondered if this was the best use of my time.


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It’s frustrating and disappointing — to put it in absurdly mild terms — that we’re still having to protest the same problems we did in the 1960s. That decade brought so much power to the table, with the Civil Rights movement, the Stonewall riots, the Women’s Liberation movement, the anti-war protests, the environmental movement, the Red Power and Chicano movements, and the Summer of Love. …


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New Hampshire’s state motto

Last week I kicked off a month-long series of discussions with members of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. Our topic is “Live Free and Thrive,” a twist on the state’s strident “live free or die” motto and an exploration of the meaning of freedom in these times. After this first 90-minute call, the conversation has already generated powerful insights with relevance for all of us and for this moment in human history.

The series came about as a follow-on to my keynote speech at NHBSR’s annual conference. The association’s director had proposed a series of ongoing discussions to explore themes from my book, The Age of Thrivability. And so I gave some thought to what, in particular, might be interesting, relevant and important to explore with that group. What immediately came to mind was an exploration of freedom. The intensifying polarization in the US seems to boil down to how we understand the relationship between freedom and social responsibility. …


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Jerez, Spain

I have this strange occupational hazard in which I fall in love a little with whatever group I am serving, even if the encounter is brief — even, I’m discovering, if the interaction is separated by monitors and keyboards within the constraints of social distancing. This is how I find myself thinking longingly of people who work in “the built environment” — architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, green building consultants, urban planners. Those who shape the spaces in which we live and work and love and play. …


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Photo credit: Owen Humphreys

Suddenly, everything is up in the air. The ground has fallen out from beneath us. That vertigo we feel is real. Like the coyote in those old Road Runner cartoons, we’re suspended just beyond the edge of the cliff, waiting with equal parts denial and dread. Between coronavirus and climate crisis and all the systems they act upon, there is no scenario in which the ground gently rises up to hold us as it has done for so long. As a civilization, this is the moment when we either learn how to fly or we come crashing down.

“Learning to fly” involves more than simple fixes, like Universal Basic Income or community gardens. Certainly, these are useful solutions to consider. But what we truly need to learn is what it means to align with life’s core patterns and potential — what it means to commit to the intention and practice not only of sustainability but of “thrivability.” More than anything, we need to learn and integrate new, life-honoring guiding principles, so that our every organization, community and interaction becomes a practice ground for a society that is more resilient, caring and aligned with the needs and limits of the biosphere. …


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[Be advised: this article makes reference to sexual violence.]

Many years ago, when I started talking publicly about thrivability and regeneration (words I use interchangeably), people struggled to understand what I was talking about and what it could mean for them. And so in place of regeneration, I sometimes proposed the word “healing.” After all, to support a system’s ability to regenerate is, fundamentally, to support its ongoing healing and emergent wholeness. Healing is a concept we’ve all experienced. With a little effort, we can all imagine how an experience, a product or a service could contribute to healing. …


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[This article originally appeared in the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario November/December 2019 print newsletter, in advance of EFAO’s annual conference at which I spoke. The theme of the conference was “A Climate of Curiosity.”]

What will it take to grow the ecological farming movement, with its more responsible and regenerative ways of being in relationship with the land? As EFAO’s Katie Baikie and I plotted and planned my talk for the upcoming annual conference, that has been the question at the heart of our conversations. The urgency to grow the movement is pressing. …


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[First published January 6, 2010] My colleagues and I have had an ongoing debate about whether we should use the phrase “spirit of life” when we talk about the integrative property or force that animates living systems, including ourselves and our organizations. Of course, we mean it in a non-religious sense, referring to it in the context ofS a model grounded in biology, complexity science, quantum physics and the vast literature on organizational success. To me, “spirit” seems the most accurate term, with its dictionary definition as the “breath of life” as well as its hint at the underlying integrality and creativity of all living systems. Still, the word makes some people squirm.


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Photo credit: Visit Flanders

“Could tourism possibly create more value with fewer visitors, giving them the space to discover the things we want to share, the things that make us unique?”

This is the provocative question offered by Peter de Wilde, the director of regional tourism authority Visit Flanders. For the past two years, this inquiry has been at the center of the organization’s quest to reimagine their industry — a quest they’ve been calling “Tourism Transforms” in acknowledgement both of tourism’s potential to transform us and of the need to transform tourism.

And indeed, there can be no doubt that transformation of the industry is urgently needed. More and more areas around the world are suffering from over-tourism, with accompanying destruction of ecosystems and heritage artifacts, as well as disruptions to local quality of life. On top of that, the industry contributes 8% of carbon emissions globally, prompting a growing call for a halt to non-essential flights. Yet despite these pressures, international tourist travel continues to grow at a rate of 4% per year. In the first half of 2019, that meant 30 million more trips than the same period in 2018, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. …

About

Michelle Holliday

Maven, Guide, Strategist, Speaker. Author of The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives & Practices for a Better World. www.michelleholliday.com

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